Friday 25 August 2017

Shouldn't writing books get easier?

I'm determined to write a new novel by the end of the year.  I keep reassuring myself that I've STILL got time. With September looming, I've just drawn up a word count chart to cross off each one thousand words I write. It's hardly a magic solution.  I've lost count of how many charts I've thrown away this year.

I started working on the idea for a new book last year. One moment I felt like I knew what I was doing, the next minute the plot would slip through my fingers like sand.  The title changed, the sub plots changed. I did consider giving up on it entirely but the characters are pursuing me. Some of them have been nagging at me for eight months.

With The Hen Party selling well (thank you everyone!) I wanted to have a new book out as quickly as possible. Those who enjoyed The Hen Party should like the next one. It's also going to be set in sunny Mallorca with multiple characters, humour and drama. 'Comedy mystery' - The Euroweekly News called it, a term I like very much. 

I've lost count of how many times I've started this new book. My creative process is flawed. I generally write a third of a book before I realise it's not quite right. I'm pleased with my writing, but there's something off with the plot.  

The thing is, I want to write the kind of novel I love to read. Whenever I get stuck, reading helps me overcome the block. My recent book haul included the highly amusing The Rosie Project  and sharp, hilarious Chart Throb by Ben Elton. After reading them, it occurred to me (not for the first time), that what matters is that I write a great book and not how long it takes!

However.... I STILL have time to finish a first draft by December, right?! 

Monday 7 August 2017

Mallorcan Traditions: The 48km Walk To Lluc

What I'm about to do is an "Expression of Mallorquin-ness" apparently. It's written on my passport. Una expressió de Mallorquinitat. Not a real passport, but the piece of paper I'm carrying to be stamped at different points during the 48km walk to Lluc monastery.

As I head to the starting point in Palma, I still don't really believe I'm about to spend the night walking. I'm quite a determined soul, but even I realise 48 kilometres (30 miles) is a LONG way. It's more than a marathon and I've never done one of those.

But walking is gentler, I assure myself. It's just a case of putting one foot in front of the other for a very, very long time.

Ten hours as it turns out and with very few and very short stops. The pain sets in if you stop and my four companions and I were well aware that the later we arrived the next morning, the hotter it would be. Mallorca has been experiencing a heat wave with highs of 38 degrees. At night it was still in the high twenties and my fingers grew all puffy and swollen.

It all began in 1974 with a few friends setting off from a bar to the monastery to thank the Virgin because a girl had escaped being injured in an accident. I'm guessing they'd been drinking!

The walk might have begun on a religious note but now it's become an adventure walk for teenagers. I was amazed how many there were. They weren't even using it as an excuse for getting up to mischief...

From 23.00 to 06.00 we were walking along tarmac roads under streetlights and the light of torches. It felt like New Year's Eve when everyone is looking for a taxi in the early hours of the morning; the kids with the ghetto blasters the typical ones looking for the after party.

I started to ache quite a lot after twenty kilometres and I was relieved I'd packed a cheeky hip flask. A few nips of rum definitely improved my mood. Other than that I was drinking loads of water, fruit and nuts.

At the four main stops at Santa Maria, Binissalem and Selva, we saw people with their shoes and socks off lying on the pavement looking like they would never get up again. It made me wonder how many actually finished.

At 6.15 we finally arrived at Selva where we were thrilled to find REAL ground coffee being served. Up until then the drinks stations had been rare and far between. At Selva we saw the sun rise and that's when the walk started to make more sense. The scenery around Lluc of the Tramuntana mountain range is really stunning. 

I can't help thinking - why not move the walk to a cooler season and do the whole lot in the day time?

But it's tradition I guess and it felt good to be a part of it. Hopefully it continues as it was almost cancelled this year due to low funds.  

My companions and I walked it to raise fund for the JoyRon Foundation, a local charity which helps vulnerable children. With the money raised they are making a cinema room in the hospital for kids who are terminally ill.  

Would I do it again?

Hmm... I'm sure there are other mad traditions to be tried out first! 


Love all things Mallorca? Then you'll enjoy my novel The Hen Party set on the island! 

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Why I mustn't complain about the heat!

It feels like my grandmother has taken control of Mallorca's thermostat. She's set it up to a cosy 37 degrees. The words are melting off the page. In fact they melt before they've even made it out of my brain. 

What was I writing again? Who am I?

I'm trying to muster the energy to complain when I see writer Josephine Corcoran's latest instagram post

Black ink scribbled across a cream page, it reads: 

Today I am coming to terms with the need to wear tights on 1st August.

What?!!! I think, as a mosquito spontaneously combusts in front of me. That bad??  

The thought of wearing tights on a normal day is an unpleasant one, but in this heat it's unbearable.

My memories of British summer come rushing back.

What summer? I used to wonder. It was always so desperately disappointing. But don't you remember that one summer when... people say. NO, I do not remember a British summer where it was consistently hot for a whole month. At best, I remember a sunny week in April back in 2014... possibly 2013.

The effect that post has on me is instantaneous. My desire to complain shrivels up along with all my plants. Of one things I'm sure, I'll take this heat over tights in August any day!